Summary of Findings
According to the American Dietetic Association, the use of supplements by consumers in the United States has become a growing trend, with nearly one-third of all adults taking a supplement regularly.1 It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that the use of supplements should be limited and optimal health can be achieved by choosing a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods.1 Nutrient supplements can be taken by individuals that are unable to meet the recommended dietary standards, as supplements can help them reach optimum nutrient levels determined by scientific nutrition standards.1 According to the American Dietetic Association Registered Dietitians play an essential role in guiding the consumer to selecting safe and appropriate nutrient supplements, and are the first resource in educating and promoting nutrient supplementation, therefore it is critical for Registered Dietitians to be aware of the health benefits and potential risks that nutrient supplementation offers.1
Quality and safety are two of the biggest concerns over nutrient supplementation for both nutrition professionals and consumers.1 The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) signed into law in October 1994 states a company is responsible for the self-monitoring of the safety of their product before it comes to market, but the FDA is responsible for monitoring supplements once they come on the market and they have the authority to eliminate a product if it is reported as unsafe.1 Currently, there are no requirements under law for companies to verify the safety and efficacy of nutrient supplementation prior to being released on the market, however, companies are required to report any adverse effects within 15 business days of receiving a report.1 In 2007 DSHEA granted the FDA the authority to establish a rule regarding consistent manufacturing practices of products in relation to the purity, strength, identity and composition of a nutrient supplement.1 Outside companies are responsible for the verification of the claims set forth by the supplement manufacturer.1 Two major independent organizations used to evaluate the quality of supplements are NSF International and US Pharmacopoeia.1 A company can choose to pay to have the quality of their nutrient supplement verified and if the product meets the specifications of quality set forth by the independent verifying agency, they are then granted a seal of approval from the organization as a sign of the product quality.1
Registered Dietitian and consumers should have a comprehensive understanding of optimal nutrient intake and the dietary recommendations for each nutrient. According to the American Dietetic Association, “optimal nutrient intakes are those that promote health and reduce risk for chronic disease while minimizing risk of excess.”1 Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) set forth by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) are the best available evidence-based recommendations...